The Delaware State Senate recently passed a direct tax on opioid-derived pain medication in the name of solving the opioid crisis. It’s now up to the House to stop this dangerous policy.
The problem is, this policy won’t solve the opioid crisis. But it will tax patients who are legitimately using medicine they need.
The costs of a tax get passed on to consumers.
A report by economist Alex Brill, and Women In Government, shows the damage a tax would cause: “the tax would do little to discourage inappropriate use, could have the unintended consequence of promoting illicit opioids for some, and would raise the cost of health care generally.”
Insurance costs will be driven up for everyone, as the Women In Government study shows, as does an analysis by two Union College economists that focused on New York’s first opioid tax proposal.
People without health insurance feel these costs as well, since they have no way to deflect higher costs if they need to buy medication.
You pay more, but the crisis doesn’t get better, and may even get worse.
A tax on legitimate opioid medicine ironically makes illegal synthetic drugs more attractive to people suffering from addiction.
New CDC data show that illicit fentanyl is what is killing people today.
Government cannot tax away this crisis. However, community-based solutions have been shown to help those suffering from addiction.
One example is Little Falls, Minnesota, which focused on addiction treatment for users, instead of just jail time. According to PBS, the Minnesota Health Commissioner reported the local hospital “has seen patient pill use decrease by 724,000 pills per year and have tapered about 670 patients off of controlled substance prescriptions.”
Delaware Representatives should stop the Senate’s misguided, dangerous tax before it punishes patients, and makes health care more expensive. There are proven ways to address the opioid crisis.